An emergency program in place at Sundre Sobeys designed to protect youngsters from possible abduction worked as planned during a recent incident – much to the delight of management, staff and especially one very happy and relieved mom.
Sobeys owner Marty Mennear explained that the Code Adam program was activated for the first time two weeks ago when a three-year-old girl wandered away from her mother.
When the mom went to customer service to report the child's disappearance, the Code Adam system immediately kicked in.
“It worked just as it is supposed to,” said Mennear. “We found the child up in the office hiding behind a desk.
“There were some tears coming out of the mom's eyes when the girl was found. She hugged the staff member who found the child and there was a lot of relief all around.”
A woman who was in the store when the Code Adam was called had this to say: “I was very impressed how quickly the staff responded, posting someone at both exits and immediately searching the store.”
Under the Code Adam program when the parent of the missing child approaches customer service, the staff member takes details about the child, including age, sex, height, weight and what the child is wearing.
The staff member then gets on the public address system and announces a Code Adam, giving the information about the child to all staff.
“The whole store staff, except the cashiers, basically drops whatever they are doing and searches for the child throughout the store,” he said. “If a person loses a child we have something in place to help and help quickly.
“We basically have a staff member at each entrance watching in case someone is trying to take the child out of the store.
“Basically we search until we find the child and if we don't find the child in 10 minutes or so then we phone the RCMP and get them involved.”
Mennear explained that the Code Adam program was developed in the U.S. and Canada following the tragic abduction and murder of youngster Adam Walsh.
Sundre Sobeys has had the program in place for 12 years.
“It was developed to help locate kids who become lost in supermarkets,” said Mennear. “It basically puts the whole store in action to find the child. When kids become lost in stores it can be a scary environment, especially in large stores.”
One Sundre mom, who asked not to be named, says it's nice to know that the Code Adam program is in place in Sundre.
“It's comforting to know that there are security measures in place when I take my kids shopping in town,” she said. “My kids don't usually get out of my sight, but if on the off chance they do, it's nice to know this program is there.”